California Voters Pass Sweeping Democracy Reform

California Common Cause applauds voter approval of democracy reform ballot measures statewide – 59 and 54 - and local measures

California voters sent a clear message to the nation that the democracy reform is needed to bring balance to our democracy. Voters across the state approved several measures to help create a democracy where everyone’s voice is heard and vote is counted.

Voters passed two statewide measures aimed at making government more accountable to ordinary voters.  Proposition 54, which requires all legislative proceedings to be videocast on-line and for bills to be in print for 72 hours before a final vote, was passed by 64% support with 93 percent of precincts reporting.  Proposition 59, which tells Congress to limit campaign spending and contributions by passing a federal constitutional amendment, passed with 52% voter approval.

“Voters are sending a message that we want to take our government back from special interests and ensure everyone has a voice in our democracy,” said Kathay Feng, executive director of California Common Cause.  “Now Californians must take the next step of holding each member of Congress accountable to the will of the voters as expressed in Proposition 59 and use our access granted by Prop 54 to keep tabs on state legislators.”

California Common Cause joined the League of Women Voters, California Chamber of Commerce, and the NAACP in backing Proposition 54. 

California Common Cause joined the California Clean Money Campaign, CALPIRG, Money Out Voters In, and many others in supporting Proposition 59.  Using a California constitutional process that dates back more than a century, the legislature placed Proposition 59 on the ballot after a grassroots campaign where more than 100,000 people contacted the legislature.  The measure instructs elected officials to overturn the Supreme Court’s rulings in Citizens United v. FEC and other cases that equated campaign spending with free speech and granted the same constitutional rights to artificial entities like corporations as enjoyed by human beings.

Additionally, several citywide initiatives approved by voters spotlight innovative reforms to make local government more accountable to everyday voters:

  • In Berkeley, voters approved Measure XI (64%), which will a citizen funded election program to increase the power of small donors by matching their small contributions with public funds.
  • In San Francisco, voters approved Proposition T (87%), which will strengthen the city’s lobbying and ethics laws to create a more accountable government.
  • In Sacramento, voters approved Measure L (53%), which will create an independent citizens-led redistricting commission to draw city council districts.

“Our local governments are leading by showing our democracy doesn’t have to be dominated by gridlock and big money in politics,” said Feng. These local reform measures show voters can be in the drivers’ seat in our democracy and will help create local governments that are truly of, by, and for the people.”